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December 16, 2009

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 5:27 pm

This morning, while waiting for the bus I was perusing my friends facebook updates, cause, thats what we do to keep up with some people these days (not a complaint mind you… I find facebook and other social media very useful for this).  While catching up, I found this update from a somewhat long lost friend…

“I am so proud of S*****. They were practicing a song at school and were told that they had to substitute the word “Holiday” for “Christmas” She of course refused and will not be singing for the talent show.”

This kicked off my usual inner debate on this topic, and that fascinating unilateral discussion was in full swing when I happened upon this comment (to her update) which very closely mirrors many of my own feelings on the matter (it was almost like there was an echo in my head!!!)

“For some reason, it has become acceptable to be exclusive of select holiday beliefs instead of all inclusive…quite sad….there is so much to celebrate from everywhere!”

Such a simple statement, summarizing what I was struggling to say (to myself!!!) succinctly and accurately.  In short, we are trying to fix problems who’s solutions require inclusion with exclusivity.

I do not believe our founding fathers established separation between church and state (which, technically, they didn’t do, by the way – they outlawed the creation of a state religion, but did nothing to forbid religion – i.e. prayer – from schools or state functions) in order to create intolerance or religious sterility.

Rather, I believe, this was done to allow and accept diversity; not to create a non-theistic society, but rather to create an environment in which a poli-theistic population would be able to co-exist with their neighbors and appreciate what each contributed to the proverbial great American Melting Pot.

As my friends friend said so well… “there is so much to celebrate from everywhere,” and, I might add, so much to learn as well.

So, in the midst of this holiday season, here’s a toast to Christmas and Kwanza and Chanukah and yes, even National Fruitcake Day (December 27th)!!!

Happy holidays everyone… and by that I mean Everyone!!!

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5 Comments »

  1. Happy Holidays to you as well and well said Sir, well said!

    Comment by Cylithria — December 16, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  2. While I agree with you in theory, people taking exception to a greeting of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Kwanza” or whatever holiday YOU happen to celebrate this time of year is just silly. We can all use all the good will and good wishes we can get. If it’s not a holiday YOU personally celebrate, why not take it the way it was MEANT? A wish for good things, for happiness and for prosperity. All inclusive works BOTH ways. By saying “Holiday” AND but wishing others happiness through the holiday you chose to celebrate! (Why yes. I do have a rather strong opinion on this. Why do you ask? Heh)

    Comment by NotAMeanGirl — December 16, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  3. “there is so much to celebrate from everywhere,” and, I might add, so much to learn as well.” That says it all. Another excellent post.

    Comment by topsurf — December 16, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

  4. “Separation of church and state” is but a metaphor to describe the underlying principle of the First Amendment and the no-religious-test clause of the Constitution. While some try to pass off the Supreme Court’s decisions as simply a misreading of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, that letter has played but a small part in the Court’s decisions. Perhaps even more than Jefferson, Madison influenced the Court’s view. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that old habits die hard and that tendencies of citizens and politicians could and sometimes did lead them to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    The legislative history of the First Amendment belies the narrow scope you would give it. Were Congress precluded only from formally establishing a national church, the intent of the Amendment could easily be circumvented by doing all sorts of things to promote this or that religion–stopping just short of formally establishing a church. The founders debated and rejected just such a narrow provision, and the courts have wisely interpreted the Amendment to restrict the government from taking steps that could establish religion de facto as well as de jure.

    When discussing separation of church and state, it is critical to distinguish between the “public square” and “government.” The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion.

    As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    The First Amendment embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked.

    Comment by Doug Indeap — December 16, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

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